“Coming to Terms with Governance” was the focus of a workshop in Bangkok, 15-16 October. Representatives from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka – the three Asian countries involved in the global project – participated in the workshop, which was convened by the Sri Lanka country component of IUCN’s global, DFID-funded project “Improving Natural Resource Governance for Rural Poverty Reduction”, with the support of the Regional Environmental Law Programme, Asia.
The workshop was held to address issues that have arisen in implementing the global project in all three Asian countries. In particular, the three countries wanted to arrive at a common understanding of governance and how to apply that understanding in Asia.
The overall goal of the global project is to improve natural resource governance for rural poverty reduction. The purpose is to establish enabling conditions for better environmental governance, including fair and equitable access to natural resources, new benefit sharing arrangements, and more participative and transparent decision-making in selected countries. In Bangladesh, the project is focusing on capacity building for communities and local government, multi-stakeholder platforms for natural resource governance, and disseminating lessons learned to ministries in particular and the public in general. For Nepal, the project goal is mainstreaming environmental rights and principles of good governance for natural resource management in the country. The purpose is to ensure that the country’s new constitution, now being drafted, provides enabling provisions in order to promote fair and equitable access to natural resources for vulnerable groups, in particular in the cases of community forestry and watershed management systems. Sri Lanka’s project focuses on improving environmental justice for the rural poor. It aims to strengthen natural resource rights and promote changes to reduce procedural inequities addressing questions of fair treatment in uniformly applying governing rules, regulations and evaluation criteria focusing mainly on issues faced by poor communities dependent on natural resources. The Sri Lanka project has three main elements: improving governance for managing natural resources; empowering civil society to reduce poverty and better manage natural resources; and capacity building for civil society to effectively manage natural resources.